I spent most of this week at the Microsoft Management Summit 2011 (MMS2011), arguably the best MMS event in recent memory. The show sold out a few weeks before it started, with a healthy 4000+ attendees heading to Las Vegas to learn about the latest products, updates, and news from the System Center product team. Nearly all the attendees I spoke with were happy with the show and impressed by Microsoft's ambitious vision for the System Center family.
The Cloud and the Consumerization of IT
The overriding theme for the show was how Microsoft's System Center products were growing and evolving to meet the needs of IT pros who are being asked to embrace the cloud and support a myriad of new computing devices, primarily the iPad, iPhone, and Android smartphones. Microsoft Vice President Bran Anderson pushed a consistent theme in both the Tuesday and Wednesday keynotes, urging attendees to partner with Microsoft to slow the migration of end users to unmanaged cloud and mobile services, bluntly telling attendees that if they didn't make it easy for end users to access the cloud and mobile devices through the IT department, those users would go around IT and access the resources themselves.
Two other trends I noticed where Microsoft's aggressive moves into bolstering security for their own platforms, and a long overdue acknowledgment that IT pros need to manage non-Microsoft devices as well as Microsoft ones. System Center 2012 support for iOS, Android, and Linux devices is still lacking when compared to Windows desktops, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone 7 devices. But adding support for these non-Microsoft platforms is a huge step for a company that has historically been reluctant to play nice with other platforms. This move to embrace management of other platforms continues a trend that started in 2008 with the Cross Platform Extensions for Microsoft System Center 2007.
Alas, Windows Phone 7
All the news from MMS this week clearly communicated how the System Center team "gets it." They've embraced management of non-Microsoft mobile devices, produced tools to help IT pros manage their clouds, and are moving to aggressively bolster security in Microsoft products. That positive progress stood in stark contrast to the Windows Phone Team, which seems bedeviled by an unfortunate confluence of negative events over the last few weeks. As of press time the infamous "NoDo (No Donuts)" WP7 update is still stuck in limbo for the vast majority of WP7 users, although Microsoft did launch a website that allows WP7 users to track the status of updates for their particular phone and carrier. One of my Windows IT Pro colleagues just started using a Samsung Focus running WP7, and during MMS it exhibited an aggravating tendency to randomly reboot itself several times a day.
Microsoft also developed a mobile event app for MMS attendees, but it was only available for WP7 users. And several WP7 users who did download it -- most likely a group largely dominated by Microsoft employees -- left uniformly negative comments on the MMS2011 Windows Marketplace app page after attempting to use it.
Having the MMS2011 app available for Android, Blackberry, and iOS devices would have underscored and bolstered the multi-platform, cloud-friendly message being communicated at the show by the Microsoft execs on hand, but is now a missed opportunity. A good litmus test to see if Microsoft truly has embraced the IT reality of multiple platforms and devices will be if we see an MMS2012 app available for iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices next year.
Think we'll see MMS event apps for the iPhone and Android in 2012? Let me know what you think (and what you thought of MMS2011) by commenting on this blog post or sending me a message on Twitter.